Maryland set to target 8.5GW offshore wind with ‘gamechanging’ new law

Maryland is poised to raise its offshore wind goal to 8.5GW by 2031, which would be one of the most ambitious state targets in the US.

The law has been described as a real gamechanger for the state by Jeff Grybowski, who led development of the US’s first offshore wind farm, Block Island (above) (pic credit: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The state’s General Assembly passed the Power Act on 10 April. The new offshore wind goal is expected to take effect from 1 June. 

The mid-Atlantic state’s goal is currently about 2GW.  

Governor Wes Moore has promised to sign the bill into law, and said he supported the 8.5GW goal in late March. 

The target would put Maryland among the most ambitious offshore wind states in the US. Neighbouring New Jersey has a goal of 11GW – currently the US’s highest – but the New Jersey deadline is not until 2040.

The Maryland Senate version of the Power Act also states that it is “in the public interest” to upgrade and expand grid transmission to accommodate at least 8.5GW of offshore wind capacity. The bill orders the public service commission and the Maryland energy administration to study the matter.

Further, the bill states that it is in the public interest to facilitate the construction of another 1GW of offshore wind projects in existing lease areas, according to local media.

Maryland has previously awarded power deals for nearly 2GW of offshore wind capacity being developed by US Wind and Ørsted. Additionally, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is assessing further lease sites in federal waters off Maryland.

The bill lauds the economic impact of offshore wind. 

Jeff Grybowski – who led development of the US’s first offshore wind farm with Deepwater Wind, and is now looking to build a project off Maryland as CEO of developer US Wind – described the law as a “real gamechanger” for the state. 

He added: “It sets a path for the people of Maryland to reap the benefits of huge amounts of clean energy in the coming years. It also tells the entire offshore wind industry globally that Maryland is back big time as a major player. 

“Companies looking to invest in offshore wind have to seriously consider Maryland.”

Meanwhile, Jim Strong of the United Steelworkers told the Baltimore Fishbowl news outlet: “Offshore wind offers the return of steel fabrication and steelworkers at Sparrows Point, and we thank the Maryland General Assembly for passing the Power Act because it provides the potential to create high-paying union jobs in the supply chain sector."

US Wind and Tradepoint Atlantic will convert Sparrows Point into a port facility for staging and delivering major offshore wind components. Governor Moore has said the wind port could employ nearly 15,000 workers. The Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point once employed 30,000 workers.